Students discuss African Roots in all cultures at Africanismos event

Lauren Rathmell Diversity Reporter

S.A.L.S.A., BUS blend African and Latino cultures

Lauren Rathmell

Diversity Reporter

As the keynote speaker of Africanismos, an event hosted by the Spanish and Latino Student Association (S.A.L.S.A.) and Black United Students (BUS), assistant professor Mwatabu Okantah spoke about the importance of recognizing the African roots in all cultures in the in the multipurpose room of Oscar Ritchie hall Tuesday night.

“We are a blended people,” said Okantah. “Africa is in us. It is alive in us.”

Okantah shared a short film from the series “Cosmic Slop” that highlighted the repression of the African culture in society.

“We need this coalition with each other,” said Okantah. “That is how we claim [the culture] that is ours.”

The event opened the room to discuss how African culture fits into every culture. 

“We want to celebrate the fact that we are all from Africa, and that we all share that heritage and that same culture,” said president of S.A.L.S.A Natalia Roman.

Even the cuisine for the evening was focused on the two blended cultures. Students were treated to a dish similar to goulash, called Quibombo, which is an African and Cuban dish along with fried sweet plantains which are found in various countries including Ghana and Ecuador.

The Kent African Ensemble also conducted a short workshop and taught the audience a classic child’s game from Ghana called Ampe, which involved stepping and clapping in a specific rhythm. The Kent African Ensemble also demonstrated how the sounds created during the game create a syncopated rhythm used in many different cultures.

“This is a really great combination of two cultures,”said junior Spanish Literature Culture and Translation major, Catherine Aikens. “It really brought to light how similar latin and african cultures really are. They seem to be so different, but realizing how similar they are is very interesting.”

“We need to make sure people don’t just see [our groups] as two separate under represented groups on campus,” said Natalia Roman, president of S.A.L.S.A.

“This is about figuring out how we can build coalitions with each other,” Okantah said, “if we can figure out how to do it on the campus, then we can figure out how to do it in the world.”

BUS meets the first Wednesday of the month and S.A.L.S.A. meets every second and fourth Thursday.